Free community engagement tips and skills


Steps to take before you engage

#1 Bring the project team together 

Hold a meeting that's just about engagement - it gives people the time and focus they need to discuss and get clear on the engagement approach and their role in it moving forward. 

#2 Link your plan and approach

Demonstrate how your project or plan is consistent with organisational values and relevant strategies.  Show decision makers how you're strategy will meet agreed objectives and how your approach is consistent with these guiding documents.

#3 Clarify your intent

Don't assume that everyone will be across what engagement looks like or why you're doing it. Ensure everyone on your project team is aware of the organisation's engagement policy or framework, the purpose of this specific engagement process as well as where it fits within the overall project.  

#4 Interview those with influence

Identify leaders  that value engagement and ask them how best to engage and connect with other leaders, decision makers and staff more broadly.  Gain their perspective on internal relationships, processes and communication channels, and ask them how to get the right people on board. 

#5 Speak their language

Use language that's accessible to and resonates with people who don't have an engagement background - consider what matters to them, avoid creating barriers by using jargon and and stay relatable. 

#6 Prepare leaders for the roller-coaster

Brief internal decision makers about the roller-coaster ride that is an engagement process, focusing on their journey/role.   Highlight how they might handle tricky situations, angst, ideas they don't expect etc. and prepare them to get through 'wobbly' times.  Remind them that wobbly times are normal and should not only be expected but also welcomed - this means you are starting to get close to the real concerns and issues.

#7 Clarify the commitment

Be clear about the time commitment you need from other staff, and what you are asking them to allocate to the engagement process.  Remember that they probably have other priorities they need to juggle, so bring them in early and allow them to clarify their role. 

#8 What drives the people around you?

Consider what drives the people you need to engage. How does your engagement process potentially impact their roles, objectives and priorities? Identify and highlight these touch-points when engaging them in your project. 




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